‘Conservatives are losing traction in ethnic communities:’ Will their leadership race make it even worse?

Likely premature call.

As we know, voters in the 905 have flipped between Conservatives and Liberals, and Doug Ford won most of these ridings in 2018 and 2022.

And during the recent leadership debates, there was remarkable consensus in favour of immigration and no opposition to the current government’s ongoing increase in immigration levels:

Cyma Musarat still remembers being accused of having lost her mind when she ran for the federal Conservatives in 2019.

As a Muslim woman, she was asked time and time again how she could cast her lot with a party that promoted policies condemned as racist.

In her riding of Pickering-Uxbridge, it was a particularly sensitive topic — during the 2015 election campaign, the Tories held an event in a pocket of the riding where they promised a so-called “barbaric cultural practices” tip line for people to report on their neighbours.

The tip line proposal and support for a ban on face coverings during citizenship ceremonies were seen as key contributors to the party’s defeat in the election.

And not just that year.

The policies effectively bombed the bridges the party had built with ethnic communities, and the issues surfaced in the 2019 and 2021 campaigns as the Tories failed to make the gains in urban centres.

What it will take for the Tories to win the next election is the question at the heart of the party’s current leadership race.

But how ethnic communities factor into the equation is a point of contention, and an issue not being debated enough, some say.

So far, the race has not seen debate over social issues like systemic racism or inequality, or even how the party can and must embrace equity and inclusion internally, said long time political activist Sukhi Sandu, who backed the Tories in the last federal campaign.

“The Conservatives are losing traction in ethnic communities, and they seem not to understand the issues that pertain to those racialized groups,” Sandu said in an interview from Boston, where he’s working towards a master’s degree in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Musarat believes the party must first acknowledge these issues exist, then move beyond a process of just checking off boxes.

For her, that’s why Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown’s leadership bid is so appealing.

“He openly says that Islamophobia exists,” she said. “That’s where the journey starts. That’s where the change will start: acknowledge the problem. Once you’ve acknowledged it, and then you find a solution to fix it.”

Brown built his leadership bid on his outspoken opposition to Quebec’s Bill 21, which bans people in positions of public authority in that province from wearing religious symbols, like turbans or hijabs, at their workplaces.

He went on to promise a multi-faith, multicultural coalition that would restore trust between the Tories and ethnic communities.

While signing up what his campaign says are 150,000 new party members, Brown has made specific promises to different ethnic groups.

In turn, he has been accused of playing diaspora politics — an accusation his backers say is proof most candidates aren’t willing to do the hard work of sitting down with voters to listen to their specific concerns and address them.

“People have this misconception that someone stands up at the front door on stage and says, ‘We’re all gonna support Patrick,’ and, you know, 50,000 people sign up for the man,” said Jaskaran Sandu, a volunteer on the Brown campaign.

“That’s not how it works. It’s painstaking, person-to-person relationship building that only works if there is sincerity and a track record.”

Brown has also been unsparing in his attacks on rival Pierre Poilievre, challenging the Conservative MP for remaining silent when the Tory government introduced the niqab ban and proposed the tip line.

Poilievre’s campaign co-chair Tim Uppal has apologized for not personally pushing back against those policies when he was an MP — and minister of state of multiculturalism.

Uppal said he had no concerns that the candidates’ positions on tackling racism aren’t getting a broad airing on the campaign trail. An issue like that only gets debated if there’s a flashpoint which prompts it, he said.

He said while Brown is recruiting in diverse communities, so too is Poilievre, citing a recent speech to a packed mosque, among others.

“What I’ve talked to people a lot about is that they’re being included because of issues that are important to them, which is taxes and other issues that affect all Canadians,” he said.

Leslyn Lewis, a Black woman making her second run for the Conservative leadership, did not respond to questions from the Star about how she views the future of the party’s relationship with ethnic communities.

Vonny Sweetland is working on Jean Charest’s leadership bid, a decision based on the depth of the former Quebec premier’s experience — and his willingness to bring people like Sweetland onto his team.

The leader sets the tone, said Sweetland, who is Black, and Charest’s is inclusive and progressive.

But both Sweetland and Sandhu said they have concerns about what will happen to the party if the populist elements that appear to be playing a major role in this race ultimately triumph.

Sandhu pointed to the tension between members recruited with a promise the Conservatives will embrace diversity and those brought in over concerns about global institutions like the World Economic Forum, around which conspiracy theories with racist undertones persist.

“Why do you expect us to be involved or continue if that’s the type of rhetoric that’s going to be included back into the party?” he said of those recruited by Brown.

“That doesn’t actually solve the issue — it goes back to the basis of the problem, which is that the Conservative party is not ready to look in the mirror and evolve and realize why it falls short in places like the 905.”

Sweetland said while he’s planning to give the new leader is some runaway, whoever it is, there is anxiety among other Black conservatives.

“I’ve seen, people, particularly people of colour, feel that this is not only a leadership race — and I’m sure you’ve heard this quote, it’s not mine, but I agree with it — that this is the battle for the soul of our party,” he said.

“And many people of colour feel that way.”

Source: ‘Conservatives are losing traction in ethnic communities:’ Will their leadership race make it even worse?

Tolley: Women and racialized political candidates are being set up to fail

I’m less pessimistic than Tolley given overall progress election to election, albeit slower than desired. And gender equity may be more of a factor in winnable ridings as visible minority and Indigenous candidates are largely, but not universally, as a function of riding demographics:

Recent elections have resulted in more women, racialized and Indigenous people holding political office in Canada. That’s good news, but we’ve got a long way to go. Elected institutions still do not reflect the demographics of the populations they claim to represent. These representational gaps are a clear indicator of democratic inequality.

It’s not that there is a shortage of qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds. It’s that the major parties still tend to privilege candidates who are white, male and middle-aged. Parties have many of the tools they need to address electoral under-representation, but rather than being a gateway into politics, parties are frequently the gatekeepers. It’s time this changed.

Political parties are the central pressure point in any effort to address electoral under-representation. The problem isn’t really voter bias: Canadians tend to base their voting on party and leader preference, and this inclinationtends to override all but the strongest prejudices against local candidates. There also isn’t a shortage of qualified candidates, but parties frequently underestimate the electoral potential of those who don’t fit the mould.

If all parties nominated a more diverse slate of candidates in winnable districts, elected institutions would be more representative.

In the lead-up to Ontario’s most recent election, commentators pointed to the high number of women and racialized candidates, including many with immigrant and minority backgrounds. But when the votes were counted, the legislature’s gender composition remained stalled at just 39-per-cent women.

What happened?

We need to look beyond aggregate candidate “diversity” numbers. It’s not just who gets nominated, but also where they run. Realizing it is electorally advantageous, some parties have attempted to recruit more women and racialized candidates, but women especially continue to be disproportionately nominated in ridings the party has no hope of winning. This isn’t inclusion.

And although there has been some progress in the right direction, it’s not enough – and it hasn’t been across all parties at all levels of government.

For example, prior to the Ontario election, the Liberals set aside 22 ridings and designated them women-only nomination contests. In the end, the party’s dismal electoral fortunes meant they only eked out a victory in one of those designated ridings, but polling indicates this was more a rejection of the party and its leader than the individual candidates.

If all parties committed to nominating more women in winnable ridings, the demographics of our elected institutions would shift.

International evidence confirms the key role that parties can play.

In 2005, Britain’s Labour Party introduced legislation that permits parties to use all-women short lists to achieve gender equality in Parliament. In the 2019 election, 51 per cent of the party’s elected MPs were women. There is noevidence voters punished Labour for using a positive discrimination measure, and the selected women were every bit as qualified as other candidates, often even more so.

There is a straight line between more equitable nomination practices and increased gender representation. Political parties that are serious about democratic equality should take note.

But parties need to think about diversity beyond gender.

In Canada, the primary beneficiaries of most diversification efforts are white women. Federally, my own research shows that racialized candidates come forward for party nomination in numbers that exceed their share of the population, but parties still show a preference for white candidates, even in some of the country’s most diverse ridings. And even when they nominate more diverse slates, parties nonetheless funnel more money to prototypical white, male candidates.

Without financial and organizational support, candidates are being set up to fail.

Politics is increasingly seen as inhospitable. Electoral engagement is at an all-time low. If parties wait to see which candidates knock on their door and want to run, chances are it will be one of the usual suspects. The time to think about candidate recruitment and organizing is now – not just at election time or the few frantic months that precede it.

Enough hand-wringing. Parties need to recognize their role and commit to action. To open the gates, they must pro-actively identify, recruit and support a more representative slate of candidates with money and organizational capacity in ridings where they can actually win.

Source: Women and racialized political candidates are being set up to fail

From God to monsters – the “new nationalism” of the US right

Of interest:

In the New York Times on 1 June, one of the rising stars of the conservative movement, Nate Hochman, articulated what he takes to be the direction and meaning of the American right. The central thesis of his essay is that the religious right has been supplanted by “a new kind of conservatism” more secular in orientation and focused on culture war issues such as gender, identity, and what he ever-so-gently calls “race relations”. For Hochman, this new conservatism is based in a kind of class consciousness, with much of the coalition being comprised of dissatisfied – “exploited” – middle Americans countering the depredations of cultural elites: “Today’s right-wing culture warriors think in distinctly Marxian terms: a class struggle between a proletarian base of traditionalists and a powerful public-private bureaucracy that is actively hostile to the American way of life.”

To bolster his claims, Hochman refers to Don Warren’s 1976 book The Radical Centre: Middle Americans and the Politics of Alienation:

“The right’s new culture war represents the world-view of people the sociologist Donald Warren called “Middle American radicals”, or MARs. This demographic, which makes up the heart of Mr Trump’s electoral base, is composed primarily of non-college-educated middle- and lower-middle-class white people, and it is characterised by a populist hostility to elite pieties that often converges with the old social conservatism. But MARs do not share the same religious moral commitments as their devoutly Christian counterparts, both in their political views and in their lifestyles… These voters are more nationalistic and less amenable to multiculturalism than their religious peers, and they profess a scepticism of the cosmopolitan open-society arguments for free trade and mass immigration that have been made by neoliberals and neoconservatives alike.”

Hochman also draws on the work of the late right-wing American writer Sam Francis, one of the “paleo-conservatives” who in the 1990s augured the rise of Donald Trump, and who is among the best guides to understanding the trajectory of the contemporary right. Far from being a marginal or eccentric figure, he is read by prominent conservatives as both prophet and guide. There are even rumours that Francis is the favoured reading of some Department of Homeland Security officials. That Hochman himself, a fellow at National Review and a key figure of the US intellectual right, leans so heavily on Francis is proof enough of his importance.

“What is occurring on the right,” Hochman argues in his New York Timesessay, “is a partial realisation of the programme that the hard-right writer Sam Francis championed in his 1994 essay ‘Religious Wrong’. He argued that cultural, ethnic and social identities ‘are the principal lines of conflict’ between Middle Americans and progressive elites and that the ‘religious orientation of the Christian right serves to create what Marxists like to call a “false consciousness” for Middle Americans’. In other words, political Christianity prevented the right-wing base from fully understanding the culture war as a class war – a power struggle between Middle America and a hostile federal regime. He saw Christianity’s universalist ideals as at odds with the defence of the American nation, which was being dispossessed by mass immigration and multiculturalism. ‘Organized Christianity today,’ he wrote in 2001, ‘is the enemy of the West and the race that created it.’”

Is Hochman’s argument persuasive? As others have pointed out, there are good empirical reasons to insist on the continued importance of the religious right as a key constituency, from its role in Trump’s election to the assault on Roe vs Wade to the centrality of churches in the political base of the Republican PartyBut the religious right is part of a larger whole; a broader right-wing whose central inspiration is not primarily religious.

Other features of Francis’s vision are also instructive when thinking about the contemporary American right. First, the radicalism of the project: Francis was not really a conservative; he felt that the conservative movement had failed and even urged his friend Pat Buchanan to drop the “conservative” label when running for president in 1992 and 1996. His vision of nationalism was as much a call for a new order as a return to the past. In his 1992 essay  “Nationalism, Old and New”he rejected the “old nationalism” for a “new nationalism” that would replace the individualism and egalitarianism of Hamilton and Lincoln with something else:

“The pseudo-nationalist ethic of the old nationalism that served only as a mask for the pursuit of special interests will be replaced by the social ethic of an authentic nationalism that can summon and harness the genius of a people certain of its identity and its destiny. The myth of the managerial regime that America is merely a philosophical proposition about the equality of all mankind (and therefore includes all mankind) must be replaced by a new myth of the nation as a historically and culturally unique order that commands loyalty, solidarity and discipline and excludes those who do not or cannot assimilate to its norms and interests. This is the real meaning of ‘America First’: America must be first not only among other nations but first also among the other (individual or class or sectional) interests of its people.”

Whereas the “old nationalism” spoke the “abstract” and “alienating” language of universalism, the “new nationalism” is supposedly something rooted in the essence of the “real” American people. Here Francis echoed the “concrete nationalism” of the French far-right authors Charles Maurras and Maurice Barrés that emerged towards the end of the 19th century, which differed from the “old nationalism” of liberté, égalité, fraternité. As the French historian Michel Winock writes, this nationalism would “subordinate everything to the exclusive interests of the nation, that is, the nation-state: to its force, its power, and its greatness”, and was pitched in darker, more pessimistic registers than the old republican patriotism. “This mortuary nationalism,” Winock argues, “called for a resurrection: the restoration of state authority, the strengthening of the army, the protection of the old ways, the dissolution of divisive forces. In varying dosages, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-parliamentarianism were dispensed in the manner appropriate to each of the publics targeted.”

Today, in order to give an accurate picture of the conservative movement Hochman describes, the list of “varying dosages appropriate to the publics targeted” could be altered to include anti-transgenderism, immigration fears, the thinly veiled racism of the anti-critical race theory (CRT) panic, or any of the other demagogic issues the right regularly summons.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Francis would sound like a 19th-century European reactionary since he was an admirer of the work of Georges Sorel, a heretic socialist and Dreyfusard turned anti-Dreyfusard. The major concept that Francis gets from Sorel concerns the importance of political myth. Myths in this sense are concrete, imaginative embodiments of a group’s self-conception and political aspirations; they are not abstract party programmes or utopias. Francis believed that the Middle American Radicals and their leaders had to develop such a myth to replace the myths of “old nationalism”, all that nonsense about “all men being created equal”.

Well, they have at least one now in the form of the “stolen election”: what better way to embody the entire sentiment of dispossession, be it ideological or explicitly racial, than the idea that political power is being held illegitimately by one’s opponents. Another such myth is QAnon, which imagines an elaborate, evil cabal pulling the strings and then a sudden moment of eschatological deliverance from their machinations. Arguably, anti-vaxx sentiments function this way, too: creating an opposition between a rapacious overclass and the resistance of the people’s “salt of the earth” wisdom. The idea of “the Great Replacement” is another one, too. Hochman is probably embarrassed to speak about the centrality of these lurid myths on the right, but they might help explain the “secularisation” of the GOP: maybe there are just other, more chthonic gods now.

What about the “Marxian” elements of the new right? Hochman is right about its emphasis on class struggle but wrong about on whose behalf it is being fought. One of the characterisations right-wing culture warriors like to make about identity politics or critical race theory is that it replaces the structural role “the proletariat” once had in Marxism with some dispossessed ethnic group: so, instead of the industrial working class, now it’s – to use an extreme formulation – LGBT+ Latinx people with disabilities who are supposed to be the bearers of the revolutionary project, since the proletarian revolution failed.

This sounds like a poor interpretation of Georg Lukacs’ conception of class-consciousness, but it’s also exactly what Hochman and his fellows are doing: their class might not be really working class – Hochman admits it’s really the middle and lower-middle class – but they are somehow still “proletarian”, the revolutionary, or the “counter-revolutionary” – subjects that are achieving class consciousness of their historic mission to Make America Great Again. This is almost exactly “Cultural Marxism”: it simply replaces the material determinations of class struggle with the terms of the “culture war”.

So who is the class that is doing the struggling here? Again, it’s worth returning to Francis. At some points in his writing, Francis calls his Middle American Radicals “post-bourgeois” to emphasise their dispossession and alienation from the old bourgeois traditions and values. But in his mature work Leviathan and its Enemies, which was published posthumously, he opposed the feared and hated managerial class that supposedly runs the state and corporate bureaucracies, through to the plain-old bourgeoisie, that is to say, the class that owns, the proprietors of the “entrepreneurial firm (the partnership, family firm, or individual entrepreneurship)”. Hochman is being too modest when he says it’s just the middle and lower-middle class: the right enjoys the patronage of many great magnates and their families: Thiels, Kochs, Mercers, Uihleins, Princes, DeVoses, and so on. The Republican coalition is simply the alliance of the most reactionary sections of the whole property-owning class, the bourgeoisie from petit to haute. I’d argue their attack on the administrative state and their tax raiding has as much to do with the protection of their interest in this regard than any feeling of “cultural dispossession”. Indeed, the right now seems to be successfully attracting a broader swathe of the entrepreneurial class, as Elon Musk recently signalled his “new” Republican allegiance over labour issues.

Hochman may be interested in another Marxist category: totality, the notion that we have to analyse a social and political situation in its entirety, and that failing to do so will give us a false or incomplete picture. While he is more frank than most, Hochman doesn’t want to look at the right in its totality. Although he seems comfortable with the portions of the right that, despite being demagogic and repressive, remain within the bounds of legal and civic behaviour, like the anti-trans and anti-CRT campaigns, he doesn’t want to talk about the storming of the Capitol on 6 January, or the myth of the stolen election, the great replacement theory, or the cultish worship of Trump, or the Proud Boys, who now have a significant presence in a largely Hispanic Miami-Dade Republican Party. But these things are as much, if not more, emblematic of the modern Republican Party as young Hochman isAs Francis knew and was much more open about, these primal forces were the real right, with the think tank intelligentsia trailing behind or vainly trying to guide the masses.

So now let’s recapitulate the totality of the political situation, with the help of Hochman’s essay. He wants to say this new right is essentially a secular party of the aggrieved Mittelstand that feels the national substance has been undermined by a group of cosmopolitan elites who have infiltrated all the institutions of power; that also believes immigrants threaten to replace the traditional ethnic make-up of the country; that borrows conceptions and tactics from the socialist tradition but retools them for counter-revolutionary ends; that is animated by myths of national decline and renewal; that instrumentalises racial anxieties; that brings together dissatisfied and alienated members of the intelligentsia with the conservative families of the old bourgeoisie and futurist magnates of industry; that alternates a vulgar, sneering desire to provoke and shock with phobic moral prudishness; that is obsessed with a macho masculinity; that looks to a providential figure like Trump for leadership; that has street fighting and militia cadre; and that has even attempted an illegal putsch to give its leader absolute power. If only there was historical precedent and even a word for all that.

Source: From God to monsters – the “new nationalism” of the US right

Brownstein: No, Ann Coulter, I Am Not Responsible for the ‘Great Replacement’ Theory

Good response and political assessment on the need for shared narratives for whites and visible minorities:

Ann Coulter, in so many words, thinks that I am responsible for the mass shooting in Buffalo in mid-May.

Not me alone. After the shooting, Coulter wrote a column dismissing the idea that Republican politicians and commentators had popularized the “Great Replacement” theory, a conspiracy theory that the young, white Buffalo shooter cited as a motivation before killing 10 people at a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Instead, Coulter argued that the theory had been popularized by political analysts and Democratic operatives who have predicted that the nation’s changing demographics will benefit Democrats over time.

In particular, Coulter, the Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and others on the right have cited the work of journalists like me, the Brookings Institution demographer William Frey, and the electoral analysts John Judis and Ruy Teixeira, authors of The Emerging Democratic Majority, claiming that, by writing about demographic change and its electoral impact, we are responsible for seeding the idea that white Americans are being displaced. “If you don’t want people to be paranoid and angry, maybe you don’t write pieces like that and rub it right in their face,” Carlson, who has relentlessly touted replacement theory on his show, declared in a recent monologue.

It might go without saying that documenting demographic change is not the same as using it to incite and politically mobilize those who are fearful of it. It’s something like the difference between reporting a fire and setting one. But given how many right-wing racial provocateurs are trying to disavow the consequences of their “replacement” rhetoric, it apparently bears explaining how their incendiary language differs from the arguments of mainstream demographic and electoral analysts.

Let’s start with defining replacement theory. It’s a racist formulation that has migrated from France to far-right American circles to some officials and candidates in the GOP mainstream. In its purest version, the theory maintains that shadowy, left-wing elites—often identified as Jews—are deliberately working to undermine the political influence of native-born white citizens by promoting immigration and other policies that increase racial diversity. This conspiracy theory was the inspiration, if that’s the right word, for the neo-Nazis who chanted during their 2017 march in Charlottesville, Virginia, that “Jews will not replace us.”

Stripped of the overt anti-Semitism, replacement theory has become a constant talking point for Carlson. A growing number of Republican politicians, such as House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and the Ohio Senate candidate J. D. Vance, have incorporated versions of it into their rhetoric. It’s the most virulent iteration of the core message former President Donald Trump has imprinted onto his party: Republicans are your last line of defense against diverse, urban, secular, LGBTQ-friendly, “woke” Democrats, who are trying to uproot the nation from its traditions and transform it into something unrecognizable.

Undoubtedly, some Democrats over the years have argued that the party would benefit from higher levels of immigration. But this is the first point of difference between mainstream demographic analysis and replacement theory: No serious student of history or politics believes that a Democratic plot to import “more obedient voters from the Third World,” as Carlson puts it, has been the driving force behind U.S. immigration policy. Until the 1990s, most of the key decisions in modern immigration policy were bipartisan—from the passage of the landmark 1965 immigration-reform act to the amnesty for undocumented immigrants signed into law by President Ronald Reagan to the Republican-controlled Senate’s passage of comprehensive immigration reform in 2006, with unwavering support from President George W. Bush. A Democratic-led conspiracy that ensnared Reagan and Bush would be pretty impressive—if it weren’t so implausible.

Second, replacement theory pinpoints immigration policy, particularly the potential legalization of undocumented immigrants, as the key reason that white Americans are being “displaced.” But Frey, the Brookings demographer, has repeatedly documented that immigration is no longer the principal driver of the nation’s growing diversity. As he wrote in a 2020 paper, census “projections show that the U.S. will continue to become more racially diverse” no matter what level of future legal immigration the U.S. government authorizes. Diversity will grow somewhat faster under scenarios of high rather than low immigration, but diversity will increase regardless, Frey notes, because it is propelled mostly by another factor. Among those already living in the United States, people of color have higher birth rates than white people, who are much older on average. Even eliminating all immigration for the next four decades would not prevent the white share of the U.S. population from declining further, Frey’s analysis of the census data found.

A third big difference between replacement theory and analyses of demographic change revolves around the role that race plays in the changing balance of political power in America. Many on the right see racial change as the key threat to the Republican Party’s electoral prospects. But demographic analysts have never seen racial change as sufficient to tilt the electoral competition between the parties. White Americans still cast somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of all votes (depending on the data source). That number has been steadily declining, at a rate of about two to three percentage points every four years. Even at that pace, it would be another seven or eight presidential elections—roughly until 2050—before minorities cast a majority of the vote.

No party can write off America’s white majority for that long. Instead, I and other analysts have long argued that Democrats have the opportunity to build a multiracial coalition composed of both the increasing minority population and groups within the white population that are most comfortable with a diversifying America: namely those who are college-educated, secular, urban, and younger, especially women in all of those cohorts. The combination of these white groups (many of which are growing) and the expanding minority population is what I have called the Democrats’ “coalition of transformation.”

Even Democratic organizations that are focused on maximizing political participation among nonwhite voters recognize the centrality of building a multiracial coalition, on electoral as well as moral grounds. “First and foremost, multiracial democracy is inherently inclusive of white people,” says Jenifer Fernandez Ancona, the vice president and chief strategist for Way to Win, which helps fund organizations and campaigns focusing on voters of color. “I don’t imagine an America in which a winning coalition across the nation and in the key states we’re going to need to be winning … [is] without white people as part of the coalition.”

This leads to perhaps the most important divergence between replacement theory and theories of demographic change. Those on the right who push replacement theory tell their mostly white supporters that they are locked in a zero-sum competition with minorities and immigrants who are stealing what rightfully belongs to them: electoral power, economic opportunity, the cultural definition of what it means to be a legitimate American. “There’s always this underlying theft—they are taking these things by dishonest means; they are taking what is yours,” explains Mike Madrid, a longtime Republican strategist who has become a leading critic of the party’s direction under Trump.

By contrast, I and other analysts have emphasized the interdependence of the white and nonwhite populations. Building on work from Frey, I’ve repeatedly written that America is being reshaped by two concurrent demographic revolutions: a youth population that is rapidly growing more racially diverse, and a senior population that is increasing in size as Baby Boomers retire but that will remain preponderantly white for decades. (The Baby Boom was about 80 percent white.) Although these shifts raise the prospect of increased political and social tension between what I called “the brown and the gray,” the two groups are bound together more than our politics often allows. A core reality of 21st-century America is that this senior population will depend on a largely nonwhite workforce to pay the taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, not to mention to provide the medical care those seniors need.

While the likes of Carlson and Coulter tell white Americans to fear that immigrants or people of color are replacing them politically, financial security for the “gray” is impossible without economic opportunity for the “brown.”

This isn’t to say that there is no political competition between older white Americans, who make up the core of the Republican coalition, and younger nonwhite Americans, who are more and more central to the Democratic coalition. In fact, a mistake that I and many other demographic and electoral analysts made over the past decade was to underestimate how big a coalition a candidate like Trump could mobilize in the name of protecting culturally conservative, white, Christian America.

For many years, I have argued that the diversification of the Democratic coalition wouldn’t always work to the party’s electoral advantage. As the party’s most culturally conservative components sheared off, I believed, Democrats would need to take more consistently liberal positions on social issues, which in turn would alienate more centrist voters from the party. That ideological re-sorting, I wrote in National Journal in 2013, would both “increase the pressure” on the Democratic Party “to maintain lopsided margins and high turnout among minorities and young people” and “make it tougher for [Democrats] to control Congress, at least until demographic change ripples through more states and House districts.” That prediction has held up.

At the same time, I stressed—and quoted experts from both parties who shared the view—that Republicans would face a growing long-term challenge in winning the White House if they could not improve their performance among minorities, young people, and college-educated and secular white voters. (The famous Republican National Committee “autopsy” of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential loss largely reached the same conclusion.) In one sense, that prediction held up too: Democrats won the popular vote in 2016 and 2020.

But, to a greater extent than I and others had forecast, Trump’s ability to win an Electoral College majority in 2016, and the fact that he came so close again in 2020, made clear that Republicans could seriously compete for the White House with what I have called their “coalition of restoration,” centered on the nonurban, non-college-educated, and Christian white voters who are most alienated by the changes remaking 21st-century America. The difficulty for the Democrats in holding the House, and especially the Senate, which favors smaller states that tend to elect Republicans, was even greater than I and others had expected.

Trump’s success among blue-collar white voters in key Rust Belt states was at least somewhat foreseeable. But his unique persona and message—a more open appeal to white racial resentments than any national figure since George Wallace, a bruising economic nationalism, and a sweeping condemnation of “elites”—generated even greater margins and larger turnout among his core supporters than I thought possible. And although some center-right suburban voters abandoned the GOP in the Trump era, many demographic analysts like me—along with the Never Trump movement—underestimated the number of Republican voters who would still vote for Trump or Trumpist GOP candidates as a way to block Democrats and advance other priorities, including tax cuts and conservative judicial appointments.

A new development in 2020 further solidified Trumpism’s hold on the GOP:Trump’s improved performance among Latino voters. That has convinced many Republicans that they can energize racially resentful white voters using nativist and racially coded messages, while still gaining ground among Latinos who are drawn mostly to the Republican economic agenda, as well as conservative views on some social issues such as abortion. This trend has proved an uncomfortable complication for the purveyors of replacement theory, who often portray Latinos as the invidious replacers. In a recent monologue, Carlson tried to square the circle by insisting that Democrats are still trying to displace white voters, but that they have miscalculated about the loyalties of Latino voters.

Due in part to the provocations of Carlson and others, the United States appears trapped in a cycle of increasing racial, generational, and partisan conflict that is escalating fears about the country’s fundamental cohesion. But imagine, Frey suggested to me, if instead of trying to convince older white Americans that younger nonwhite Americans are displacing them, political leaders from both parties emphasized the growing interdependence between these two groups. Ancona, of Way to Win, offers one version of what that message could sound like: “If we start telling a story that America is the richest country in the world, that there is enough pie for everyone, there is no need for ‘replacement.’ The whole construct is wrong. There should be enough for all of us to be free and to be healthy and to be living the life we want to live. There is a beauty in that story we could tell people, but it’s just not being told in a way that it needs to be.”

The refusal of many GOP leaders to condemn replacement theory even after the Buffalo shooting, and their determination to block greater law-enforcement scrutiny of violent white supremacists, underscores how far we are from that world. To me, the safest forecast about the years ahead is that the Republican Party and its allies in the media will only escalate their efforts to squeeze more votes from white Americans by heightening those voters’ fears of a changing country. I’d like to be wrong about that prediction, too, but I’m not optimistic that I will be.

Source: No, Ann Coulter, I Am Not Responsible for the ‘Great Replacement’ Theory

Australia: Will the hateful army who bullied Yassmin Abdel-Magied come after Australia’s diverse new parliamentarians?

Remains to be seen:

If the euphoria and back-patting over the federal election results are anything to go by, Australia is a vastly different country from the one Yassmin Abdel-Magied left five years ago.

A new cohort of confident, competent, successful and ethnically diverse parliamentarians are about to enter public life. They have been widely celebrated as a sign that the country is getting multiculturalism right.

I am sceptical of these good vibes. History teaches us to be worried about how they will be treated over the next few years.

If recent history is anything to go by, at least some of them will be in for a rough ride. The ones most likely to attract negative attention will be those who are unlucky enough to have the deadly combination of confidence and “difference” due to wearing a hijab, having dark skin or non-Anglo features.

Australia’s tall poppy syndrome goes into overdrive when it comes to people who aren’t white and have the audacity to criticise Australian racism

Australia’s tall poppy syndrome goes into overdrive when it comes to people who aren’t white and have the audacity to criticise Australian racism. Lest we forget, two years before Abdel-Magied was relentlessly abused and trolled for a six word Facebook post that sought to remind Australians of the plight of people affected by war and living in horrendous conditions at Manus and Nauru, Adam Goodes was subjected to appalling, career-ending bullying by footy fans in stadia across Australia.

Like Abdel-Magied, Goodes’ “mistake” was that he was both brilliant and uncompromising in his rejection of racism.

For both personalities, public vilification followed soaring success. Goodes had been Australian of the Year, and Abdel-Magied had a string of high-profile engagements including a television program on the ABC.

And yet, as Ketan Joshi has calculated, in the year following the Anzac Day post, over 200,000 words were written about her in the Australian media, with 97% of those words appearing in News Corp.

The pile-on included Peter Dutton who, from the lofty height of his position as immigration minister, welcomed her sacking by gloating “One down, many to go” and called for more ABC journalists to be fired.

Imagine that? How is it fair dinkum for a 26-year-old naturalised Australian citizen who posted on her personal Facebook account to be personally targeted by the minister for immigration?

The pile-on fuelled by wealthy and unhinged News Corp presenters created an environment in which Abdel-Magied endured real-life attacks. A pig’s head was dumped at the Islamic primary school she attended and posters were put up in a Sydney neighbourhood by a white nationalist group that racially stereotyped Abdel-Magied and journalist Waleed Aly – another overachieving brown migrant who has been the subject of sustained abuse.

Thankfully, the campaign to silence Abdel-Magied has not worked, just as the efforts to silence Goodes have not killed his spirit nor dimmed his capacity to be a positive influence on the lives of members of his community.

Still, their treatment creates a chilling effect. They are not alone of course. There is ongoing racial abuse hurled at other footy players, and racist commentary follows virtually every appearance of high-profile African Australian Nyadol Nyuon. Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi wrote in the Guardian last year that she has been called “a maggot, a cockroach, a whore and a cow”.

I haven’t copped it as bad, but each time I have appeared on Q+A the memory of Abdel-Magied’s treatment has loomed large. Indeed, before my first appearance I was warned they shouldn’t “Yassmin me”. Each time, I worried about appearing too strident lest I spark a frenzy based on a comment I didn’t see coming.

While nerves are part of the deal when you appear on television, being afraid to speak your mind is not. Being overly concerned about making factual observations about racism and sexism is a function of living in a society that has a track record of bullying Black people with a public profile. As Yumi Stynes found out, it can be easier to minimise and ignore racism, even when it is staring you in the face live on television. The consequences of calling it out, or even observing it, can be catastrophic.

This sort of silencing has the cumulative effect of diminishing the quality of the national conversation about racism. We should be able to have honest, mature discussions about racism. Instead, we are held hostage by the thin-skinned bullies at News Corp, the lily-livered bosses at the ABC and the worst instincts of their audiences.

To be sure, the record numbers of public representatives voted into office from non-European backgrounds is a cause for celebration. In a proud editorial, the West Australian noted that WA Labor senator Fatima Payman, who came to Australia as a refugee at the age of nine, represents “modern Australia, for now and the future”. The paper is right.

Unfortunately it is also the case that if Payman dares to point out systemic race-based obstacles that prevent the success of people from her communities, the army of hateful people who bullied Abdel-Magied will almost certainly come after her.

Diversity in parliament isn’t just about new faces, it’s also about accepting hard truths. The class of 2022 is inspiring because, against all odds, its members have made it into politics.

But if Australians want parliament itself to become a site of inspiration too, we will all need to move beyond the good stories and learn how to celebrate those who refuse to sugarcoat the truth.

If Abdel-Magied’s assured refusal to hang her head in shame for being herself teaches us anything, it is that there is no expiry date on the truth.

  • Sisonke Msimang is a Guardian Australia columnist and the author of Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home (2017) and The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela (2018)

Source: Will the hateful army who bullied Yassmin Abdel-Magied come after Australia’s diverse new parliamentarians?

Milloy: Where is the progressive counter-narrative to Pierre Poilievre?

Important question:

As a member of the lefty chattering class, I am not sure what concerns me more — the rise of Pierre Poilievre or the inability of his progressive critics to develop a positive counter-narrative to his message.

The main criticism of Poilievre from those on the left seems to be that he is an angry “nut” with bad policies.  Although he may be popular in some circles, they would argue that it tends to be with the not-too-bright and ill-informed. Clever people from downtown Toronto, Ottawa or other urban centres have no time for him.

Labelling someone early in the game can work — just ask Michael Ignatieff — and maybe Poilievre is simply a crank who is just stirring up a small fringe minority.

Perhaps there is nothing to worry about.

I am not convinced.

From where I sit, it looks like Pierre Poilievre has touched a nerve. Canadians are angry, exhausted, divided, and looking for answers. Poilievre is providing them. He has developed a narrative about how he would address Canada’s problems that has caused many to sit up and take notice.

So, how is the other side responding?

Let’s start with one of Poilievre’s most high-profile promises. If he were prime minister, he would fire the governor of the Bank of Canada for his apparent role in fuelling inflation.

“Ridiculous,” say his critics. Not only does Poilievre not understand basic economics but look at what happened when John Diefenbaker tried to fire the governor of the Bank of Canada in 1961.

I have news for my progressive friends: When gas is two bucks a litre and grown children can’t afford to move out of their parents’ basement, ordinary Canadians aren’t interested in history lessons from the 1960s.

Then there is the issue of restoring freedom — the central theme of Poilievre’s campaign. Once again, the progressive crowd dismisses Poilievre as touting crazy conspiracy theories about big government.

But hold on a minute. I don’t care where you stand on vaccines, lockdowns, and masks. The last few years has seen an unprecedented intrusion in the lives of Canadians. Governments have regulated and curtailed our activities like never before, all in the name of public health.

Where are the limits? What is the progressive narrative about the need to balance personal freedom with the common good? Where is there even an acknowledgement from those on the left that the level of government control over our lives during the pandemic has been scary for some Canadians and they understand and respect that fact?

What about natural resource development and climate change?

Like all Conservative leadership candidates, Poilievre is anxious to cancel the carbon tax and dramatically increase oil and gas production in Canada.

What is the left’s counter-narrative?

Why has it been seemingly impossible for progressives to develop an easy-to-understand story that explains how we need to balance short-term support for oil and gas through actions like the purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and approval of Bay du Nord offshore oil project with a long-term commitment to fighting climate change?

How about defunding the CBC — a proposal that always produces cheers at any Conservative gathering?

Sure, enjoying Canada’s national network over a latte or a glass of chardonnay is a favourite pastime for of every small “l” liberal.  But is it just me, or has the CBC increasingly turned into a northern version of MSNBC? Shouldn’t we be concerned that a big chunk of the population doesn’t see their views represented on our taxpayer-funded network?

Could progressives not even acknowledge the concern and outline a way forward to improve our national broadcaster?

And yes, Poilievre appears to have an unhealthy obsession with cryptocurrency and its growing presence in the global economy.

But how do progressives propose to deal with this emerging phenomenon?

What about the whole style of political discourse these days?

Poilievre claims that Canada is governed by “a small group of ruling elites who claim to possess moral superiority and the burden of instructing the rest of us how to live our lives.”

Ouch!

Be honest all you lefties. Can you see how some people (maybe many people) might view progressives that way? What are you going to do about presenting a style of leadership that is open, prepared to listen and willing to engage?

I end this column where I began. Maybe Pierre Poilievre will ultimately go nowhere.

But be careful. Although I am generally uncomfortable with comparisons between Canadian politicians and Donald Trump, there is one point worth making: Love him or hate him, Trump entered the 2016 election campaign with a whole range of easy-to-understand solutions to the apparent ills facing the United States. The counter-narrative from the other side left much to be desired.

Let’s not make the same mistake here in Canada.

Source: Where is the progressive counter-narrative to Pierre Poilievre?

‘Don’ of a new era: the rise of Peter Thiel as a US rightwing power player

Of note – campaign finance is another issue that will likely never be addressed. The lack of limits worked in Obama’s favour, so this is not just a problem of Republicans:

As the Republican party primaries play out across the US, the most sought after endorsement is still that of former president Donald Trump. But when it comes to the most vital part of any American campaign – money – another figure is emerging on the right of US politics who is becoming equally significant.

Peter Thiel, the PayPal founder and former CEO referred to as the “don” of the original PayPal Mafia, a group that included Elon Musk, is establishing himself as a serious power player in American rightwing politics by wielding the power of his vast fortune.

Thiel, styled as a billionaire venture capitalist and tech entrepreneur, plowed more than $10m into a super Pac backing Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance, winner of the Republican primary for an open US Senate seat in Ohio.

In August, Thiel’s backing will be tested again after shoveling $13.5m into supporting former employee Blake Masters in the competitive Republican primary for a US Senate seat in Arizona.

In both cases, Thiel put his money – his fortune is said to be in the region of $6bn – to work behind candidates aligned with Trump’s rightwing agenda in 2022 midterm elections.

Earlier this year Thiel stepped down from the board of Meta, where he was an early investor, and a long-serving adviser to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “He wanted to avoid being a distraction for Facebook,” according to a person close to Thiel. With his resignation effective this month, the source told Forbes Thiel “thinks that the Republican Party can advance the Trump agenda and he wants to do what he can to support that”.

But there is a vacuum between the entire Trump political agenda and Trump himself. The former president is apt to pick candidates who promote his stolen election claims. Not all succeed, or are likely to. Trump’s failed backing of David Perdue as Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate looked like a personal grudge against incumbent Brian Kemp, who certified Biden’s victory in 2020.

Thiel has so far helped Trump in that cause. By some estimates, Thiel has donated $25m to 15 other 2022 candidates for the House and Senate towing the Trump election fraud line.

Max Chafkin, author of a Thiel biography The Contrarian, recently wrote that Thiel’s goal is to turn Trump’s ideology into “a disciplined political platform”.

For Thiel, endorsements of Vance and Masters follow a $300,000 donation to the campaign of far-right senator Josh Hawley, then running for Missouri attorney general in 2016. He also donated money to help elect Trump president and spoke on his behalf at the Republican National Convention.

Thiel stayed out of the 2020 presidential race, and instead donated $2.1m to a super Pac supporting Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who had proposed creating a registry of Muslim immigrants and visitors.

“Thiel is one of the conservative mega donors that has the ability to shore up candidates that might need additional support. His spending is targeted, and his ability to spend millions can be impactful,” said Sheila Krumholz at OpenSecrets.

Where Trump often seems a single issue political player – obsessed with the 2020 election loss – Thiel is more flexible in terms of what he represents, Krumholz says.

“Often when your’e talking about party-aligned mega donors, there are people who have been active over decades, so Peter Thiel strikes a different figure. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s tech industry, super successful, seen as part of the young conservative vanguard that some see as more libertarian.”

“They might be Trump supporters, but their portfolio and persona waters down the connection,” Krumholz adds.

Like Musk, Thiel – called The Dungeon Master by the New York Review of Books because he played Dungeons & Dragons as a teenager and read J R R Tolkien’s trilogy ten times – presents a contradictory picture.

As an undergraduate, he founded the conservative Stanford Review and in 1995 Thiel co-authored The Diversity Myth, a book sought to question the impact of multiculturalism and “political correctness” at California’s higher education campuses.

“In bright and shallow Silicon Valley, Thiel stands apart for having retained the intellectual intensity of a bookish undergraduate, a quality that has made him an object of curiosity, admiration and mockery,” the publication noted. “He stands apart amid the orthodoxy of tech-world social progressivism as much for his conservatism as for his business sense.”

In 2003, he co-founded Palantir Technologies, a firm to assist US intelligence agencies with counter-terrorism operations. Last week, Palantir and global commodities trader Trafigura announced a new target market to track carbon emissions for the oil, gas, refined metals and concentrates sector. BP is among its customers, Reuters reported.

Thiel’s libertarian credentials, and perhaps in part his political motivation, were publicly established in 2016 when he funded an invasion of privacy lawsuit filed by Terry Bollea, known more popularly as wrestler Hulk Hogan, that bankrupted the news website Gawker. Gawker had outed Thiel in 2007.

“It’s less about revenge and more about specific deterrence,” Thiel said of the action. “I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest … I thought it was worth fighting back.”

Funding the lawsuit, he added, was one of the “greater philanthropic things that I’ve done”.

Blake Masters, the 35-year-old Republican US senate candidate for Arizona, has suggested he would use the same tactics after the Arizona Mirror wrote that the candidate opposes abortion rights and “wants to allow states to ban contraception use”. Masters denies those positions.

“If I get any free time after winning my elections then you’re getting sued, and I’ll easily prove actual malice,” Masters wrote in a tweet. “Gawker found out the hard way and you will too.”

Thiel, said Masters last year, “sees some promise in me, but he knows I’ll be an independent-minded senator”.

But the larger issue for Thiel may be intense cross-currents in the US around big tech, social media and free speech. His former PayPal Mafia consigliere, Musk, is also emerging from the tech world to have influence in US politics – where he recently declared himself a Republican – and free speech as he seeks to buy the social media platform Twitter.

“[Tech is] an industry on the cutting edge and caught in the cross-fire between the parties,” said Krumholz. “There are a lot of conflicting pressures on and from within the tech industry. Tech is being scapegoated by some, and held responsible for much of the disinformation, excesses of social media, partisan division and radicalization we see.”

Moira Weigel, a professor of communications at Northeastern University and a founding editor of Logic magazine, argued in the New Republic last year that Thiel does not really matter: “What matters about him is whom he connects.”

At the moment, Thiel is busy connecting some of the most rightwing politicians in recent US history.

Source: ‘Don’ of a new era: the rise of Peter Thiel as a US rightwing power player

ICYMI – Milloy: Election debates lack real purpose

Valid questioning:

Why do we have leaders’ debates?

I suspect those Ontarians who bothered to watch the most-recent election debate are probably asking themselves that very question — I know that I am.

It’s not that there was anything particularly wrong with the evening and kudos to both the moderators and party leaders for all trying their best. But what was its purpose?

Theoretically, I guess it was to inform voters on the various policy positions of the parties to allow us to compare-and-contrast them.

However, all I remember hearing was the intention of each leader to throw huge amounts of money at every problem in a way that was somehow different from the boatloads of money promised by their competitor. Did I really talk that way when I was in politics?

In fairness, there were a few points of contrast, such as the differing party positions on the building of Highway 413. But let’s be honest, examples like these were few and far between.

Why does this happen?

Mainly it’s because public policy has become unbelievably complex and there are no easy solutions, yet voters have short attention spans. The only way for a party to get noticed is to simplify issues, couch them in bumper-sticker slogans and ditch the nuance.

Source: Election debates lack real purpose

Ben Woodfinden: Canada’s aspiring populists aren’t actually all that radical – Immigration excerpt

Really telling, whether in Conservative leadership debates or this commentary by Woodfinden, just how much all political parties, save for the PPC, have accepted the Century Initiative, the business community, education institutions and other stakeholders arguments for increased immigration to address – or at least to appear to address – an aging population.

While on the right, this may reflect a legitimate fear of being labelled xenophobic or worse, on the left, hard to know why they raise some of the issues raised by increased immigration in terms of labour markets and conditions, housing shortages, environmental and climate impacts etc.

Of course, real politik, the battleground ridings in the GTHA and BC’s lower mainland, with majority or significant numbers of immigrant and visible minority voters, also plays a role.

But these voters also face the same issues and impact of large scale immigration, and I continue to wonder whether the current approach and general consensus will eventually fracture and change, as Woodfinden also raises:

Take for example the great third rail of Canadian politics: immigration. The rise of populism around the world in recent years has many competing explanations, but a backlash against immigration is a common theme in many of the places where populism has caused political earthquakes. Poilievre, nor any major candidate in the race, has shown absolutely no interest in touching this. If anything, he has embraced the political consensus on immigration, making direct pitches and appeals to immigrant communities. This is probably a political necessity given the diversity of ridings in areas like Toronto that anyone who seeks to form government will need to win.

But the present moment might well be ripe for a populist challenge to this consensus. Over 400,000 immigrants came to Canada in 2021, a record number. Yet with a growing number of younger Canadians locked out of the housing market due to skyrocketing prices, it’s a surprise a political entrepreneur hasn’t come along and pointed out, rightly or wrongly, that Canada’s high levels of immigration are likely to keep propping up what feels like to many young Canadians an economic pyramid scheme in which they pay exorbitant amounts for housing so that older Canadians can retire. While the PPC have made such arguments, and while you will see this kind of sentiment bubble up on social media, it’s probably more widespread than we generally assume. Thus far no serious figure has challenged the status quo on this.

Arguments in favour of immigration are often framed in economic terms. We need these immigrants to keep our population growing and to support an ageing society. But of course, there’s no real challenge or consideration given to the deeper reasons why this is necessary, namely that we need high levels of immigration because of our low, and still falling, birth rates. Our discourse and politics just accept this as a fact, given that having children is just entirely a personal choice. To suggest that we should try and increase birth rates and that having children and starting families are a social good we actively ought to be promoting and encouraging seems beyond the pale. Bring this up, and you’ll inevitably get accused of being a secret white supremacist who is motivated by racial concerns. For many pundits and elites, it is simply inconceivable that anyone could be legitimately concerned about birth rates and thus must have ulterior motives. 

Source: Ben Woodfinden: Canada’s aspiring populists aren’t actually all that radical

Australia: How did Labor get it so wrong in Fowler?

One of the more interesting vignettes in Australia’s election, when parachuting a “white” candidate backfired spectacularly:

“Dai! Dai!” they cry from across the street, followed by a burst of Vietnamese.

As their new federal member walks through the Cabramatta mall in a pink suit, people run across to shake her hand and hug her. In Gough Whitlam Place, Dai Le is mobbed by fans and poses for photos.

After a lacklustre election, the electorate feels, well, alive.

There’s shock and amazement that a once seven-year-old girl who fled Vietnam by boat will be heading off to Canberra to represent them. Who would have thought?

“We are the little people,” one man said. “But this time we raised our voice.”

“Kristina Keneally sucks!” a tradesman in fluro added.

It’s all a wild dream, according to Ms Le, who spoke to 7.30 a day after Labor’s parachute candidate Kristina Keneally conceded defeat.

On Saturday night, as the results trickled in from booths across Fowler in Sydney’s south-west, the veteran local councillor’s pleasant surprise turned to shock and disbelief.

The very safe Labor seat of Fowler hadn’t changed hands since its creation in 1984, and it had been held by retiring incumbent Chris Hayes on a margin of 14 per cent. Ms Le won narrowly but enjoyed a 16 per cent swing towards her. A political miracle.

“I sat there in my lounge room and I literally looked back at that time when I was on a boat in the middle of the ocean with my mum and two younger sisters and I remember how fearful that moment was for me because we thought we were going to die,” she said.

If the 2022 election was about flipping the bird to the major parties, then the result in Fowler speaks volumes.

Questions over Labor’s multicultural legacy

Gough Whitlam is known as the father of multiculturalism and used to live in Cabramatta. There’s a monument to his legacy in the heart of the mall. It sits in front of a cafe where old men gather around tables to play traditional games.

So how did Labor, the purported party of multiculturalism and the working class — the people of Fowler are both — get it so wrong?

Some blame Labor’s Sussex Street headquarters, but Prime Minister Anthony Albanese played his part by backing Kristina Keneally over young lawyer Tu Le.

Ms Keneally would have lost her Senate spot had she stayed there, and needed a safe Labor seat to return to parliament.

Mr Albanese described Ms Keneally — a white American-born woman from the northern beaches, who did not grow up in south-west Sydney — as a great migrant success story.

Ms Keneally was unavailable for an interview.

“Fowler shows that people will see through cynical ploys,” Per Capita research fellow and Labor member Osmond Chiu told 7.30.

“They don’t want to be taken for granted, and when they feel like you’re taking them for granted they’re more than willing to punish you.”

The Keneally decision sparked an outcry among some Labor MPs at the time, but the increase in cultural diversity among Labor ranks in this parliament is likely to neutralise the anger.

Either way, the end result is the first Vietnamese Australian to enter federal parliament, just not on the Labor side.

‘I’m not a teal’, Dai Le declares

If blue seats turned teal this election, then Dai Le’s Fowler turned from red to pink. The politics are slightly the same, the shade is a little different.

The disparity between Fowler and the wealthy teal electorates in Sydney and Melbourne is stark.

In Fowler, most voters are labourers and tradespeople, clerical and administrative workers, machinery operators and drivers, and community service workers.

According to the 2016 Census, 60 per cent were born overseas while more than 80 per cent have parents born overseas. Vietnamese is the top ancestry.

The rise of the independents in Australia is as uneven as our country.

Dai Le is quick to say she’s not a teal even though she’s happy to sit down and “have a cup of tea” with them.

How she votes in the parliament remains to be seen.

When 7.30 asked her how she would vote on climate change, Ms Le seemed to echo Scott Morrison who told 7.30 last week that some parts of the country were more insulated to such issues.

“The teal independents are very much affluent,” Ms Le said. “They have other things they can worry about. Whereas my electorate, we actually have to worry about food on the table.

“The climate change issue, the federal ICAC issue, I mean it is important to us, but for me it’s our health system.

“For me, the priority would be how to make sure there is affordable and cheap electricity prices.”

As she embarks on a life in the Canberra bubble, Ms Le is promising to be her same, genuine self, and on the streets of Fowler, voters are proud that one of their own will be in parliament.

“Menzies, years ago, talked about the forgotten people,” said Than Nguyen, a former Vietnamese community leader.

“We are the real forgotten people.”

Politicians be warned. If you forget the voters, they’ll remember.

Source: How did Labor get it so wrong in Fowler?